FirstBank to Empower 500 Widows through its SPARK Initiative
As part of activities marking the 2019 First Bank of Nigeria Limited Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Week (CR&S) the Bank has empowered 125 widows as identified by the International Women Society (IWS) vis-à-vis their initiative for widows – Widows Trust Fund – with funding to grow their micro-medium scale businesses. However, the desire of the Bank is to scale up the empowerment to 500 widows before the end of the year.
Speaking at the 125 widows’ endowment empowerment programme in commemoration of FirstBank 125th Anniversary, the Group Executive, International Banking Group (ITBG), First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Mrs. Bashirat Odunewu, said the Bank’s partnership with IWS was designed to further the empowerment of women, especially widows. She also stated that the CR&S week themed: ‘Ripples of Kindness; You First’ reflects the brand promise to always put its stakeholders first and is designed to offer employees and other stakeholder, opportunities to give their time and resources to defined causes.
Odunewu, who was represented at the event by the Business Development Manager (ITBG), First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Kunle Olorunfemi explained that as part of the Bank’s employee giving and volunteering programme, the week focuses on wide range of activities under the SPARK (Start Performing Acts of Random Kindness) initiative, which include partnership with IWS for the empowerment of widows, as well as visit and donations to orphanage/less privileged homes, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and deepening the values of SPARK amongst school children.
According to Odunewu, “A world without active collaboration amongst people, organisations, nations and regions is inconceivable. We are here because of our collective desire to pursue synergies that would generate progress for us and future generations. That is the focal piece of sustainability. I am, therefore, optimistic that this partnership will help drive sustainable development.
“At FirstBank the partnership amongst people and stakeholders have sustained us for over 125 years. As you might be aware our impact traverses virtually every sector of the economy. This indeed resonates our 125 anniversary theme ‘Woven into the Fabric of Society’
“Such partnerships have also provided the opportunity for us to help create an enabling platform for Small and Medium Enterprises to thrive and develop the national economy.
“The partnership with International Women Society is designed to advance social and economic impact by providing capital and capacity building for women running small businesses including widows.
“We believe that a committed, well-funded and well implemented partnership with International Women Society will enhance our goals as a responsible corporate citizen which include focusing on empowering women and nation building.
“The partnership with International Women Society is also in line with the Bank’s financial inclusion and women’s economic empowerment policy which promotes accessible and affordable financial products and services to disadvantaged groups with the goal of bringing these marginalized populations into the mainstream economy, improving their chances for resilient livelihoods and financial stability.
“In partnering with International Women Society, by providing opportunities for widows in areas of capacity building and access to start-up capital, the Bank advances social and economic impact,” he concluded.